Leslie Johnson- The Three Elements of Egyptian Society: Liberals, Islamists, and the Military.

t1larg.cairo_.victory.gi_  In this class, we have mainly focused on three elements in Egyptian Society dealing with revolutions: Liberals, Islamists, and the Military. They are all depicted differently when explained by the three different elements; however, the Liberals and the Islamists see the liberals as secularists, the Islamists as either terrorists or extremists, and the Military as an enemy. All three of the elements can be very confrontational groups. They are each in their own way “true believers” who whole heartedly support their own beliefs and are willing to fight in order to make their beliefs the norm in Egypt. Two movies in which these elements play a crucial role in are “Chaos” and “The Terrorist”.
“Chaos” is about a young school teacher, Nour, who is in love with a prosecutor, Cherif, whose mother, Wedad, mentors Nour. Nour, Wedad, and Cherif are the three main characters, but the police officer, Hatem, plays a very important role in this movie as well. “Chaos” mainly deals with Liberals and the Military. For the sake of this blog, I included the police officers and the other authorities as a part of the military. Wedad, Nour, and Cherif would be considered Liberals; however, Cherif is also a part of the military as well. This movie is pretty interesting because of the fact that the police officers are almost always seen as being a negative figure or an enemy in Egyptian movies, but in “Chaos”, they show corrupt police officers, like Hatem and almost all the other officials, and, in addition to the corrupt officials, they show Cherif as a kind, caring, and ideal prosecutor. He isn’t quick to imprison the citizens and he listens to their wants. He also does not imprison people without evidence. I put Cherif in the category of the liberals as well as the military because he is kind and caring which is not a normal adjective describe the military and is more so used when talking about the liberals. Cherif is what the Egyptian military and government want the people of Egypt to believe is really what all of the officials and authorities are like. Unfortunately, Hatem is really what most of the officials and authorities are like, corrupt. He bribes people by giving them what they want and getting them out of jail in exchange for money or whatever else he wants. Nour and Wedad on the other hand are both liberals. They despise Hatem and think he should be removed from his position. They do not conform to the military’s liking, but instead, they speak out against the military. This movie shows two of our three main elements in Egyptian society, but since Cherif is one of the main characters in this movie, “Chaos” strays a bit from most Egyptian films about the revolutions and Egyptian society because he is a kind and caring official in the Military. I think he is included in this movie because they wanted to show that all of the stereotypes about our three elements are not always true. They wanted another view of the military.
Just as “Chaos” strayed from the typical Egyptian films about the revolutions and Egyptian society, “The Terrorist” does the same thing. “The Terrorist” is about an Islamist, Ali Abdel el-Zaahir, who shoots at a bunch of American tourists on a tour bus and is wanted by the Egyptian Military, which are depicted as being protectors for the people instead of enemies of the people like usual in Egyptian films. Since he was on the run from the military, he found refuge in the home of a liberal family by posing as a professor, but not only did he find refuge with the liberal family, he fell in love with one of the daughters, Sawsan. Even more than “Chaos”, “The Terrorist” is unconventional. “The Terrorist” deals with all three of our elements of Egyptian Society, but focuses on the Islamists and the Liberals. “The Terrorist” depicts what most people, who are not Islamists, think Islamists are like; however, at the end, they make Ali Abdel el-Zaahir seem like a sweet, caring person which is normally the opposite view of Islamists. The family, on the other hand, was sometimes seen as an extreme version of Liberals. Faatin, the younger sister, was the most extreme. She sometimes dressed provocatively and she listened to western, secular music like Michael Jackson. This movie played on many Egyptian stereotypes. It showed the Islamists as terrorists and just people with strong religious views. It also showed the Liberals as people who believe in God, but don’t push their beliefs on other people, like Sawsan, and as people who are a little bit more secular, like Faatin. However, the only group that “The Terrorist” didn’t really dwell on was the Military which was just being depicted as the “good guy”.
I think “Chaos” and “The Terrorist” exploit the stereotypes of these social groups in different ways and for difference purposes, but one way in which they are similar is in the depiction of the role of the family, which is very positive and the one saving grace of people in both films. They used society’s stereotypes of the three elements, but then they added what some of the individuals apart of these groups are actually like. Just as in every group in the entire world, there are going to be good and bad people. I think that is the main message of both movies and our three elements of Egyptian society play a crucial role in most other Egyptian movies.

“Heya Fouda 2007 [ Arabic Movies with English Subtitles ] – هي فوضى.” YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 16 Oct. 2014.

“Adel Emam El Erhabi Complete.” YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 16 Oct. 2014.